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How To Replace an Electrical Outlet

When an old electrical outlet will no longer work, cannot hold a plug securely, or becomes damaged, it should be replaced. Replacement is usually very easy and should require only 5 to 10 minutes.

Always replace an outlet with one of the same type and rating. If you are replacing an outlet near a sink, outdoors or in another wet location, a GFCI outlet may be required for added safety. If you are replacing an ungrounded outlet (two prong), an ungrounded outlet must be used as a replacement. However, at the time of writing, March 2007, a GFCI outlet may be substituted for an ungrounded outlet. The GFCI must be labeled as "No Equipment Ground" and all other outlets downstream on the same circuit must be labeled as being "GFCI Protected" and "No Equipment Ground".

Caution: Please read our safety information before attempting any testing or repairs.

Electrical work requires safe practices. Always turn off power at the circuit breaker or fuse box. Post a note that work is being done, to avoid someone turning the power back on. After turning off the power to the circuit, test the circuit to be certain that there is no power. Always use insulated tools for added safety. Check with your local building department for regulations and permit requirements before beginning work.

  1. Turn off the power. Test circuit for power before proceeding.

  2. Remove the cover plate.

  3. Remove the retaining screws at the top and bottom of the outlet.

  4. Pull the outlet straight out from the box.

  5. Note the position of the wires and transfer them over to the corresponding terminals on the new outlet.

    • We recommend using the terminals instead of the slip connectors found on the back of some outlets.

    • If the wire is stranded, twist the strands together.

    • Create a "U" shaped loop of bare wire about 3/4" long.

    • The screw tightens in the clockwise direction. Hook the loop under the terminal screw so that tightening the screw pulls the wire tightly under it, rather than pushing it out.

  6. Wrap electrical tape around the outlet so that the exposed terminal screws are covered. This is a safety precaution to reduce the risk of shorts, arcing and shocks.

  7. Gently fold the wires into the box as you push in the outlet.

  8. Secure the outlet at the top and bottom with the retaining screws.

  9. Replace the cover plate.

  10. Turn on the power.

  11. Test the outlet.

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